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Discuss the portrayal of city life in a group of works

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Landscapes and countryside paintings before 1850.
  3. Portrayal of streets showing the modernization of cities.
  4. Parties scenes as very common topic.
  5. the topic of art and its omnipresence.
  6. The places and the activities painted.
  7. Conclusion.
  8. Bibliography.

In this essay, we will look at how artists portray city life, how they make the most common things in our lives becoming special and how they transform reality into art. Indeed, everyday, ordinary life often becomes special under their brushes. Some of them like Degas or Toulouse-Lautrec liked painting after shows instead of the show in itself, the most commune scene rather than the spectacle. Indeed, city life is what we experience every day and its portrayal could be assimilated with reality shows, nowadays: it aims at showing the most common things of our lives. Some of the pictures even disturb by showing aspects of city life, which people would have rather forget (like Degas' L'Absinthe or his Interior (The rape) ). In this essay, we are going to reflect on how painters portray city life, and what effects it has on the general public, looking at a group of works we saw in the Tate Britain's special exhibition dedicated at Degas, Sickert and Toulouse-Lautrec. First, we will look at how they painted the city in itself, and then its activities, and, to finish, its people.

[...] French painters Tissot and Renoir also painted a lot of outdoor city scenes like London Visitors[12] (Tissot) showing tourists on the step of the National Gallery or Place Clichy[13] (Renoir, 1880), which represent a crowded streetscape of Paris. In painting the cities and their habitants, they showed totally different things that have never (or rarely) been shown before. That way, they attracted a new public. However, this portraiture of cityscapes was maybe more pessimistic than the countryside ones, showing even the worst sides of human lives. [...]


[...] As I said before, it allows the viewer to identify to the people painted in that these scenes are closer to the public than the catholic ones painted by Delacroix or Gericault before, but it has also a function of memory of this period, showing the current trends (for either fashion, occupations or arts). In a nutshell, the urban places represented in this group of work, show the industrialisation that took place during the impressionism period, but also a certain wish to change in the art world. [...]

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